More positive ways to change bad behaviour

  • Letters
  • Monday, 08 Jul 2019

“PARENTS say caning necessary but counselling also needed” (Sunday Star, July 7; online at has some merits. But it would be more productive, long-term-wise, that counselling

be the first move; and only in the last resort, for some real hard- headed students, that caning is allowed.

Caning readily used to resolve discipline problems in schools is just not OK in today’s social and educational environment. Simply put, caning should not be accepted as the most effective or appropriate method to deal with issues of discipline. The violence of caning could have more negative effects than any positive effect.

It’s time for the Education Ministry to seriously review corporal punishment. Arguably, corporal punishment is largely ineffective and has never really produced positive results or proven to correct long-term bad behaviours or attitudes. Corporal punishment tells children that it is OK to be violent towards them and it is permissible to resolve conflicts through violence. Hence, it is not a desirable method of communicating with children to convince them to change bad behaviour.

Corporal punishment inflicts pain, stress and anxiety and leaves lasting emotional and psychological scars on children. The age-old story that “I was smacked or caned and it didn’t hurt me” is no reason to continue with corporal punishment to discipline children. If allowed at all, caning can be justified only if there is absolutely no other way to improve the way kids act.

Stop the smacking or caning and show our children there are different, more positive, ways to learn to change undesirable behaviour. Please heed noted US child expert Dr Benjamin Spock’s advice that if we wish for a kind society, “a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good place to start”.


Kajang, Selangor

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